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Valdez comes to the rescue as Ateneo outlasts UST

By Josiah Albelda Posted Jan 8th 2014

Ateneo de Manila University rallied to beat University of Santo Tomas in five sets for the Lady Eagles' fifth straight victory.

On the brink of its first defeat in more than a month, Ateneo de Manila University turned to its most lethal weapon.

And Alyssa Valdez was just happy to oblige.

The third-year wunderkind dazzled in the last two sets as the Lady Eagles clawed back to score a heart-stopping 15-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 15-13 victory over University of Santo Tomas in the 76th UAAP women's volleyball tournament Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

A dreary start almost pushed Ateneo to a loss, as the Tigresses came tantalizingly close to securing their first win in their last three outings.

But the Lady Eagles toiled, Valdez responded and the Katipunan spikers roared to their fifth straight win to get into a tie for second place at 5-1.

Valdez fired a season-best output of 28 points off 25 hits, two aces and a block while also pulling off eight digs as "The Phenom" more than made up for a lethargic night for the rest of the Ateneo belles.

After solid performances in her last games, Amy Ahomiro screeched to a halt, finishing with just five points even as Marge Tejada and Ana Gopico, who was injured in the fourth, added eight markers apiece.

UST, who fell to sixth place at 2-4, started out strong and handily won the opening set behind the hot hands of Mela Tunay, Pam Lastimosa and rookie Ria Meneses.

The Tigresses then moved to 23-21 late in the second set, but a 4-0 burst by the Lady Eagles saved the Blue and White from what could have been a crushing defeat.

The Espana-based spikers recovered to snatch the third set, 25-22, before Valdez took on the cudgels for Ateneo in the final two frames.

Lastimosa dazzled for 23 points off 17 kills, five blocks and an ace while Tunay broke out of a slump for 17 markers spiked by 11 hits and four aces.